We’ve been here for two weeks! It feels like we have always lived in this strange apartment-hotel for our entire lives. Today and yesterday we were international flat-hunters, though we’ll share more on that later when the stars align.
What are you doing in …life?
A lot of people are wondering what I, Leah, am doing over here on this island. That is fair. I am doing what I did before: my art practice. It’s more complicated to explain quickly (especially to a real estate agent), which is why I’m sometimes less keen to speak up.
So, my art practice looks this way: researching new ideas, experimenting with paint and what I’m learning, prepping surfaces to paint, making paintings, and editing all of that. After all that, I’m applying for exhibitions and a residency here and there, while trying to participate in the art scene. That’s what happens for me full time.
Then I have some sort of employment to help out with the finances. In San Francisco, I really loved working as a consultant for artists and authors. I also was able to do some teaching gigs in the midst of all that.
Here I don’t have that network, so I am beginning from scratch. Small talk and networking takes a lot of my energy and requires a lot of mental preparation, so I am trying to grow in that. London will be good for me to stretch that way. My hope is to be teaching more here in London at a university level.
I am returning to the States to teach for 4 weeks in the summer. It’s a program I really love teaching, and I’ll still net some dollars while imposing on all of my favorites for their couches.
What then have you been doing in London?
When David went back to work, so did I. I’ve been making small paintings on paper with my tiniest of palettes. I brought a small toolbox with the basics for oil painting: a few tubes of paint, brushes, a small glass palette, and a few other odds and ends. I prepared the paper ahead of time in San Francisco, so that I could just start painting again when I was ready.
I’ve been mulling over the vulnerability of travel/migrating/relocation. Your body is extra sensitive. I read an article about how we don’t sleep well when we travel because our bodies know we could maybe be in more danger. I packed a tiny first aid kit for our travels. I have so many things to keep me safe from germs: wipes, hand sanitizer, and vitamins. And I’m not even a germ person–I don’t care about germs, but I know how sick I can get from everything I’m exposed to.
You’re more emotionally vulnerable as well. We really are doing okay! Very much so! And that is amazing. Even so, things will trigger homesickness or remind us how insane all of this is. I’m on a (Mexican food) hunger strike because you can’t beat SF. I haven’t changed my default “home” address in Google Maps. I felt pangs of sadness when I saw photos of the queen’s bubble umbrella because my friend also has one. It’s all raw, but also ridiculous.
Tate Modern has an amazing Mona Hatoum exhibition up right now. I trekked down on Thursday to see it, and it was extremely moving for me. So much of her work is about the (sometimes literal) shreds of yourself that you leave behind in your displacements or migrations. This felt especially solvent as I think about everyone and everything back in the States, as I attempt to rebuild my professional and personal lives.
So, I’m running again trying to rebuild there. We’ve visited a church. We went for pints with David’s colleagues. I’m venturing out to see art exhibitions. I’ve made some tiny paintings. All of these things are really small in the grand scheme, but take so much of you when everything is new. I find myself being tired a lot, but also like it’s not the end of the world.
It’s like my life is a small check list: Make some friends. Make some art. Stay healthy spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. I can do this.